114. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Huang Chen, Chief of the PRC Liaison Office in Washington
  • Tsien Ta-yung, Political Counselor
  • Shen Jo-yun, Interpreter
  • Yang Yu-yung, Notetaker
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Philip C. Habib, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff, Department of State
  • Richard H. Solomon, Senior Staff Member, National Security Council


  • Discussion of the Secretary’s Forthcoming Trip to Europe; the President’s China Trip

Ambassador Huang: You will be leaving again!

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, Wednesday morning—for Paris, Geneva, Bonn, and London.

We are going to announce tomorrow that I will see the Israeli Prime Minister while I am in Bonn. So it will be a very hectic trip.

What is the news from our friends in Peking?

Ambassador Huang: (pointing to the staff present): Some of you read our newspapers in Peking, or our broadcasts. (To the Secretary) Your colleagues must know [what the news is].

Secretary Kissinger: You have no secrets? You must be following our practice. (Laughter)

Ambassador Huang: What needs to be broadcast will be broadcast; what needs to be published will be published.

Secretary Kissinger: So you have nothing to add?

Ambassador Huang: According to Dr. Kissinger’s usual arrangement, I will be pleased to listen to your views.

Secretary Kissinger: I know that as a good general the Ambassador doesn’t commit his reserves too early.

[Page 702]

There were no especially urgent matters to discuss. It is just that as we have not met for several months I thought it would be useful to have a general review.

We have read a number of statements by your leaders to our journalists and others. We have paid attention to these.

As you know, I am going to see Foreign Minister Gromyko on Thursday evening, and Friday. He will want to discuss with us the Middle East, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, and the European Security Conference to a limited extent.

On the Middle East: As I told you last time, our effort is to gain some control over events and reduce the possibilities of some other power increasing its influence in the region. Since we last met, we have restored some momentum to our diplomacy. Therefore, I won’t have very much to discuss with Gromyko in the way of concrete steps that the U.S. will be prepared to take with the Soviet Union [regarding the Middle East].

We still want to leave open the possibility of agreement between Israel and Egypt, and therefore we are not prepared to assemble the Geneva conference until that possibility is exhausted. So, for the time being, we will still pursue a separate course in the Middle East.

On the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, the Soviet Union owes us an answer, and I find it hard to predict if there will be some movement. But as I stated publicly, we will not have a summit meeting in Washington if there is no agreement on Strategic Arms Limitation.

Then, the European Security Conference will meet at the end of July. I was never a great enthusiast for it. At this moment we think it will produce mediocre results.

Beyond that, as I have said, whether Brezhnev comes or not depends on where we make significant progress—and there are no areas where this might happen other than those you know about.

In other parts of the world, our relations with our European friends are better than they have been in many years. If there is a European Security Conference, the President will probably stop in Bonn on the way—and he will also visit Warsaw, Belgrade, and Bucharest [on the way back] to make it clear that we do not accept a dividing line—a sphere of influence—that ends in the middle of the continent.

On other areas, in India, we notice not without interest Madame Gandhi’s recent actions.2 I do not think I will be attacked in the U.S. for being hard on her, as I was several years ago.

[Page 703]

In Indochina, we are not playing any particular role at this moment. We hope that other countries won’t use it for military bases—but we are not active in any way.

We have noted that your government has restored relations with the Philippines and with Thailand. We believe that this is commensurate with present realities.

I am sure you are familiar with the proposal we made with respect to Korea in the United Nations.3(Mr. Lord hands the Secretary a piece of paper, which he pauses to read.)

With respect to Japan, we are pursuing compatible policies. You know that Prime Minister Miki is coming here in August; and the Emperor will come in October. But we won’t discourage Japan from pursuing its friendly relations with China.

These are the major areas I wanted to cover. You know our friendly relations with Pakistan, our desire to help them. So these are the major trends in our foreign policy right now.

Ambassador Huang: I would like to put this question to Mr. Secretary: We know that you started your reassessment of your Middle East policy for a long time. Has anything come out of it? We know that Mr. President, and the Secretary, met with Mr. Sadat [in Europe in June]. We have also learned from the press today that the cabinet of Israel will wait a week before deciding [on their position regarding the negotiations with Egypt]. And Mr. Secretary has just now told us he will also meet Mr. Rabin in Bonn.

Another question, which is related to the first, is what prospect do you see for your step-by-step diplomacy?

Secretary Kissinger: Well, we will never formally announce the conclusion of the step-by-step approach, as it is too much fun answering press questions. But as you no doubt are aware, being located here in Washington, this [Middle East diplomacy] is partly a domestic question. You know that we have moved to a much more impartial position [between Israel and the Arabs] than several years ago; and we are urging very strongly progress on all parties concerned, especially Israel. But I think that the chances of making some further step forward have improved in recent weeks.

[Page 704]

Ambassador Huang: Chairman Mao once said that it is important to follow a policy of two hands in the Middle East, to be even-handed.

Secretary Kissinger: I remember his comment very clearly. This is our policy, with our reassessment, to pursue an even-handed policy more actively.

Ambassador Huang: What prospects do you then see for the step-by-step approach?

Secretary Kissinger: I think it has improved. In fact, I am receiving the Israeli ambassador later this evening. He will give me his government’s formal position—we have not yet received the content of their position.

Ambassador Huang: We have learned from the press that the U.S. side is thinking that if a step-by-step approach does not produce results then you will go in for an overall settlement in the framework of the Geneva Conference.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, but we would have to put forward our own plan. So we would prefer to hold off for a while as Sadat has invested so much in another step. We will work with him, and later we will work in the Geneva framework.

On our bilateral affairs, have you heard any reflections on the possible Presidential visit to China?

Ambassador Huang: I already discussed this problem the last time we met. Our attitude has been very clear all along. That is—Mr. Secretary also mentioned that our leaders had a discussion with American friends visiting China, with the newspaper editors. Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-p’ing said that if President Ford would like to visit China we will welcome him. The Vice Premier said that if he comes to discuss matters it is all right; or if he prefers not to discuss matters that is all right too. If their minds meet in discussions that is fine; but if there is no meeting of minds, that is also fine. So on the question of the visit of the President, Vice Premier Teng said that this matter is up to the President to decide.

Secretary Kissinger: So let me ask you frankly if we should consider this statement of the Vice Premier’s as official? You have already answered my question. (Huang interjects: Doubtlessly [the Teng statement is official]; without question.)

One possibility is whether there can be intermediate points between a full meeting of the minds and no progress at all.

Ambassador Huang: Perhaps Doctor remembers what Chairman Mao told [Edgar] Snow before President Nixon visited China. Chairman Mao made several statements to the same effect [as the recent Teng statement]. So it is my personal opinion that we will not bring any difficulties on our guests.

[Page 705]

Secretary Kissinger: So, I will discuss this conversation with the President. When I return [from the forthcoming European trip] we will further discuss this question more concretely.

Our idea would be that about six to eight weeks before the President goes, I would go to work out preliminary arrangements and understandings. But we will make a concrete proposal to you.

Ambassador Huang: We will wait until you come back, and then have a further discussion. When will you return?

Secretary Kissinger: This will be a quick trip. I leave on Wednesday and will be back Saturday night.

Ambassador Huang: Are there any other points?

Secretary Kissinger: We appreciate the Congressional visits that will be taking place. We will try to prepare them—but then you have handled so many different delegations, and after Senator Magnuson you are prepared for anything. (Laughter)

Ambassador Huang: There will be two Congressional visits in August.

Secretary Kissinger (to Mr. Solomon): Are you going with one of the groups, Dick?

Mr. Solomon: I’ll see how busy I am then with other things.

Ambassador Huang: So we will see you when you get back.

[At this point the discussion ended and Mr. Solomon escorted the Chinese party to the door.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Staff for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Convenience Files, Box 39, Solomon Subject Files, PRCLO (3). Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place at the Department of State. All brackets are in the original. On July 3, Habib, Lord, and Solomon submitted a memorandum to Kissinger containing suggested talking points. (Ibid.)
  2. On June 26, Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency and had many of her political opponents imprisoned.
  3. According to Kissinger’s talking points, the United States sent a letter to the UN Security Council on June 27 announcing U.S. willingness to see the UN Command for Korea dissolved on January 1, 1976, if the Governments of the PRC and North Korea agreed to uphold the armistice by accepting the United States and the Republic of Korea as the “successors in command.” (Memorandum from Habib, Lord, and Solomon to Kissinger, July 3; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Staff for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Convenience Files, Solomon Subject Files, Box 39, PRCLO (3), May–July 1975)